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Space Telescope And Hungarian Metal Foam

'From and Beyond the Earth' exhibition opens at the Hungarian Museum of Science, Technology and Transport to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

400 years ago, the Italian Galileo Galilei constructed his telescope and directed it to the sky. To honor his discovery and invention, considered as a milestone in one of the most important science fields of human kind, the UN decided to declare 2009 the International Year of Astronomy, abbreviated 'IYA2009'. Part of the global celebration, the Hungarian Museum of Science, Technology and Transport has recently placed a spectacular and interactive astronomic exhibition on display, open until Nov 22. “With the motto 'The Universe - yours to discover' the IYA2009 aims to stimulate interest in astronomy among the general public and especially youth,” explains curator Dr. Judit Varga, who’s also Deputy Director of the museum.

The mysterious world of stars and galaxies greatly intrigue the children. “Our major goal is to provide visitors with as intense facts and information about astronomy as possible,” she continues, adding that this challenge couldn't be more difficult, as astronomy is a rather insubstantial science. “However, astronomy is an excellent way to teach children not only about cosmic phenomena, but also mathematics, physics, optics, chemistry and even computer science and biology,” she tells Diplomacy and Trade. According to her, up to 5,000 visitors had seen the show at the museum so far but with the beginning of the fall term at schools in September they expected the attendance to grow significantly.

Shakespeare and the sky

During the exhibition, vehicles, demonstrational equipment and other works filling the exposition are on display, all of which provide useful knowledge to those visitors who encountered astronomy only due to significant, yet rare astronomic events or phenomena. “We want to call attention to the significance of observing stars and planets, as well as the social and cultural effects of the development of this particular science field,” Varga reveals, adding that they also wish to draw awareness on the scientific basis or falseness of certain astronomic events and incidents that influence our everyday life and which can be traced in the position of stars. “Our visitors have the opportunity to actually see how sharp the picture through the Galilei telescope is or they can take a look at the scales that measures solar mass and light year. They can also learn when and which planets are to be perceived to the naked eye, even a hundred years ahead, what the armillary sphere is and why it is on the Portuguese national flag and what solar phenomenon Shakespeare perceived at the age of eight.”

Besides the objects and equipments displayed, the exhibition shows animations and presents programs that can be executed on PCs and envisioned on players. “These elements make the composition more spectacular, visual and interactive; otherwise the show on its own would be only a static line of a group of objects,” the curator notes. “We have also built a proportional model of the solar system and the operation of an interactive constellation puzzle.” For thousands of years, a number of scientists have observed the sky hoping to find relations, connections between the phenomena of the atmosphere and the earth. However, not only scientists surveyed stars; a couple of years ago even everyday life was strongly linked to the position of orbs. Agricultural works and even healing procedures were harmonized with the tread of the moon. People thought potato was best sown at full moon, while pepper at new moon. Extracting warts was also affected by the moon. The different phenomena of the sky had their own folk denomination. Moon was called God's Milk Loaf, the sun was Clothes-Horse Star or elsewhere it was Pellet Pasta Dryer, while Saturn was labeled as the Star of the Szeklers.

The blazing star was Hiding Star or Whiskery Star, the Milky Way was known as the Gypsies' Way, as, according to the folk belief, gypsies scattered it with hay on their way to Egypt to heave cobs. Venus was called Healer of Diseases, Dinner Star, Evening Star but some termed it Ox-Seeker as shepherds used to look for the straggler stocks at dawn. Stars are mysterious, everyone loves them. Many people still hope and expect them to turn their fates to better. Perhaps because stars are shiny or because they are far away and for the uninitiated their insolubility and inexplicability is something to be admired. People excitedly read the horoscope pages of magazines hoping stars might fulfill their wishes and desires. The exhibition of the Hungarian Museum of Science, Technology and Transport may bring the starry sky closer.

Metal foam, or Hungarians and the Astronomy

Hungarians, just like in other scientific fields, have accomplished outstanding achievements in astronomy, too. In the history of astronomy, Hungarian Gyorgy Kulin discovered the most orbs with a total 84 smaller planets and two blazing stars. The Kulin planetoid and the Whipple-Bernascni-Kulin blazing star were named after him. A current space-research project is also linked to Hungary. The Admatis Ltd of Miskolc has recently started the FOCUS venture in which they examine the behavior of foam in weightless condition. The results of this experiment are going to be utilized down on earth, as the newly developed substance, metal-foam, applied in sound-proofing technology, is expected to be the future's next top material.

The Hungarian Museum of Science, Technology and Transport

The museum opened 110 years ago. The building itself served first as the Traffic Market Hall erected for the Millennium Exhibition at the turn of the century, later on, it expanded into a museum. At that time, the institution had about 3,500 objects exhibited, mainly related to railway transport. By now, it is over 20,000 pieces involving objects relating to all branches of transport, furthermore documents, schemes, plans, photos, maps and hundreds of books are stored there, too. On the 5,000 sqm area visitors can take a look at the first Nr 424 express-locomotive or the first trolley bus in Budapest, which dates back to 1889. On the other hand, St. Jupat, the sailing boat on which Nandor Fa and Jozsef Gal sailed around the world is also displayed, just as the space capsule in which Bertalan Farkas, the first Hungarian spaceman returned to the Earth. Due to this year's merge of the Transport Museum and the National Museum of Polytechnics, the service of the joint institution has been expanded even more.

Réka Alíz Francisck

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